Building Collapses & Explosions

A building collapse featuring damage and debris

A building collapse or explosion may result from structural damage, a gas leak, or sabotage.

What to Do If You Suspect Structural Damage,
a Gas Leak or Sabotage

  • Call 911.
  • If you are inside the building, exit as quickly as possible.
  • If you are outside, move away from the building as quickly as possible.

What to Do During a Building Collapse or Explosion

If you are inside the building and cannot exit:

  • Get under a sturdy table or desk, if possible.
  • Call 911.

If you are inside the building and trapped by debris:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a cloth or clothing.
  • Move around as little as possible to avoid kicking up dust, which may be harmful to inhale.
  • If possible, use a flashlight so you can see your surroundings and to signal your location to rescuers.
  • Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can hear where you are. Use a whistle if you have one. Shout only as a last resort as shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.

After a Building Collapse or Explosion

  • Fires often occur after a building explosion. Learn more about fires.
  • Follow instructions of emergency responders.
  • Do NOT try to re-enter a building or enter a debris field to look for personal property. It is unsafe to do so, and the air may be contaminated.
  • There may be significant numbers of casualties or damage to buildings and infrastructure.
  • Stay informed by signing up for Notify NYC, the City of New York's official, free emergency communications program, will alert New Yorkers if there is an emergency in your area. Register for emergency notifications by get the free Notify NYC mobile application, visiting NYC.gov/notifynyc, contacting 311 (212-639-9675 for Video Relay Service, or TTY: 212-504-4115) or following @NotifyNYC on Twitter. Notify NYC messages are available through many formats, including email, text messages, telephone, the Notify NYC website, RSS, Twitter, and American Sign Language videos.
  • Tune in to local TV and radio for officials' announcements

What the City Does

Building collapses or explosions involve coordination between government agencies and infrastructure and utility partners. NYC Emergency Management may support recovery operations by coordinating any of the following at the request of the emergency responders: area evacuation, debris management, damage assessment, family reunification, power restoration, and more.

The City will monitor the air around a building collapse for contamination. If the air is contaminated, the City will notify the public and provide instructions on how to stay safe.

If the building collapse causes significant impacts to the surrounding area or requires an investigation, NYC Emergency Management will notify the public regarding transit disruptions, closed roadways and to avoid certain areas.

If a large number of residents are displaced and/or searching for missing family members, the City will coordinate service centers or family reunification centers when appropriate

More Resources